A Quick Update: Production Pix

I want to post a quick update featuring some of the things my little team & I have been working on of late!

This is Christian Perry who has been helping me with several technical issues, most recently with researching the best way to generate fur that looks the way I want it to, but that also ‘renders’ on the computer at a reasonable speed. (And since one of the main characters in this film is, after all, a cat, the method for creating its fur is a major consideration!)

Below you can see the test model with the fur “guide hairs” selected (that’s why they look green). There are about 600,000 of them on this guy, and they control the way the computer ‘grows’ the rest of the literally millions of strands. These guide hairs can be ‘groomed’ for length, direction, fluffiness/clumpiness, etc.

This test render gives a basic idea of how the fur will look.

While Christian is delving deep into techniques, Ryan Peterson (my character sculptor & 3D designer) has been hard at work over the last several months producing highly detailed models based on conceptual artist Dave Laub‘s designs. (You can see my Videoblog featuring some of Dave’s work here.)

Here they are discussing a particular area of Ryan’s 1st stage devil model.

Ryan and his amazing work will be the subject of an upcoming Videoblog, but I wanted to give you a sneak peak (literally over their shoulders) at some of the sheer awesomeness he has been crafting away at:

Getting to work with these guys — especially when we are literally in the same room and throwing ideas at each other — has easily been one of the most fulfilling and rewarding creative experiences of my life. They are genuine masters at what they do, and yet have little or no ego as collaborators. Any idea is a ok to share, and that kind of openness is a crucial element for allowing creativity to thrive! More goodies to come soon!

About Xtopher

Director of The Price, and Owner/Creative Director of Silver Fish Creative, LLC.
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24 Responses to A Quick Update: Production Pix

  1. Emilie Bott says:

    This whole process has been remarkable! I love watching the step by step details and seeing the artist’s work and collaboration. As Dave’s sister, I also have to say…bravo for getting a photo of dave, even if it is the back of his head! haha!

    • Xtopher says:

      Hah — thanks Emilie! I actually have a few of Dave where you can see him quite clearly, effectively dissolving the swirling mystique he has so carefully cultivated … but what’s the fun in that, right? 😉

  2. Roxanne says:

    Thank you for the update. Little updates are just fine. And informative. And fun to read. Thank you for keeping us involved in the process.

    • Xtopher says:

      Thanks Roxanne; I think I can actually manage getting these smaller updates posted more often. So glad you enjoyed it!

  3. stacyhurt says:

    Update is great. The cat looks pawsome! Thanks for the updates! This is so exciting!

  4. Ira Pearson says:

    I actually wasn’t expecting that level of photo-realism – very nice surprise. It all looks great, especially the cat. Nice work, everybody!

    • Xtopher says:

      I’m glad you approve, Ira! :) I’m excited for future updates so you can see how “Neil” and the devil(s) are turning out …

  5. More than anything else I find myself curious about how this will all congeal. We’ve all seen so much concepting, and you did such an incredible job putting together so much compelling video early on, that I find myself constantly trying to visualize how the current work will mesh with the initial designs. Very excited to see what will come of it all.

    And thanks, as always, for the update. When you’re so hungry to see more, the smallest scraps are devoured with relish.

    • Xtopher says:

      Hey Michael — as always, your comments are most welcome and insightful! (Although your choice usage of “Congeal” conjures-up images for me of day-old porridge … but I’ll not take offense. 😉 ) What’s interesting to me is that the original animatic didn’t even make an attempt at visual design continuity — there were rough caricatures, more detailed, ‘painterly’ illustrations, Photoshop-ed images, 3D renderings, all mashed together side by side just to get the overall point across. With the finished scenes this time around, I can build on that initial foundation and really strive to make each shot an illustration in itself (albeit a ‘moving’ one). It is tremendously exciting as each piece of the puzzle is formed and I am that much closer to fitting them all together!

  6. Lynne Taylor says:

    It is so much fun to be a part of this. What else can I say?

    • Xtopher says:

      I’m glad you’re a part of this too, Lynne (it wouldn’t be happening without incredibly generous people like yourself)!!! :)

  7. Teresa L. says:

    I was the sysadmin for a boutique CGI and video game studio in San Diego back in the early nineties. (Might have been before CGI was known as CGI!) it is amazing to see how much 3D modeling and animation software has advanced. The big deal back then was reverse kinematics and particle systems. Now we have guide hairs – wow! It is thrilling to see your vision unfurl. Great work and thanks for letting us look over your shoulders.

    • Xtopher says:

      Oh yeah … I remember the Alias/Wavefront & Silicon Graphics days … :) Thanks for the very encouraging words, Teresa!

  8. Chuck Hudlow says:

    Thanks for the update, Chris.

    As everyone’s already stated, the updates are always welcomed and we’ll be anxiously waiting for the next one.

  9. Ed White says:

    Good to see another update so quick! I think I actually prefer the shorter, more frequent updates in the production process! I know that as a professional in the field you’re probably like “sheez! Only 600,000 hair guides? Why would anyone care about cat hair?” but I personally find it very interesting, from an outsider’s perspective. Getting a film like this done, especially as an indie artist, is completely foreign to me, and I would enjoy seeing more of the random little production things, like you showed us today!

    Also, ditto to what Ira said! The level of detail going into the models is breathtaking and completely unexpected! I thought it was going to be more comicky, but again, when I think I have you figured out, you throw me for a loop!

    Keep the good work–and the posts–coming! 😀

    • Xtopher says:

      I’m very pleased that you find these kind of details interesting, Ed! I think you’ll discover the entire look and feel of the finished film to be a little unexpected — I am really striving to create something a few degrees apart from what we are all used to seeing with computer-based animation of late. As always, I appreciate and look forward to your comments, brutha!!! :)

  10. Kate McKinnon says:

    It’s exciting to have a glimpse into your collaboration. I am fortunate to be involved in a similar experience right now, and your comment about your collaborators being both astonishingly talented and devoid of ego is what we have here as well. It’s the most fulfilling possible way to work. I’ve been following your project since you put it up on Kickstarter, and I look forward to seeing your updates, and of course your final piece!

    • Xtopher says:

      Thanks Kate — and I’m very glad to hear of your own positive experiences. It is great to be able to use a talent to amuse & entertain yourself … but being fortunate enough to participate with others in the creative process really does raise everything to an exponentially higher level. Again, thanks so much for your interest and support!

  11. ranti says:

    What more can I say? Awesomesauce. :-)

  12. Sherezada says:

    Glad to see another update so soon! As an indie filmmaker myself, I love seeing the process of other filmmakers along their journey. Looks like things are proceeding well for you! Keep up the good work, and I’m excited to see more!

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